Putting in the work

As I’ve noted before, Mr. D and I have been going to a sex therapist/marriage counselor, Dr. Roger Libby, for a little while now. It began making a difference from the first day, because it was obvious how different he was from a regular marriage counselor. He gave us hope and immediately started guided us with actions to take rather than simply discussions of feelings or rehashing the past.

We’re definitely a committed couple, for all our other relationship faults. And neither of us wants our relationship to fail. We moved past all the people we could live with and landed on the one we couldn’t live without, which is what makes us so crazy when things start to fall apart.

We’ve been working through the book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. We rate high on pretty much all of the surveys that measure connection and appreciation, because that isn’t our problem. But yesterday, as we were creating a timeline of our ups and downs, it became clear, clearer to me than ever (and made it visually simple to explain it to Libby at our session) that all of our downs have been directly related to a downturn in sex/intimacy. It was, in my opinion, the best exercise we have done so far, because, while we didn’t really learn anything new, it made the problem so visually clear.

Staying focused on the issue is the best way to deal with the issue…or at least that makes the most sense to me…and it has always seemed that the counselors we have worked with in the past have tried going at the problem from every other direction besides head-on, as if sex and intimacy weren’t really the problem. We, of course, always knew it was, but talking about sex in any non-vanilla sort of way just isn’t something most run-of-the-mill marriage counselors are prepared for.

I appreciate that Libby is tackling this issue without too many diversions. He gives us “homework,” he’s hooked me up with a hormone specialist, and the focus is always intimacy and sex. No wasting time with attachment issues or childhood trauma or family stuff. This guy knows why we are there and is focusing on that issue. It makes me feel respected as an intelligent person who has a clue about her own emotions, but just needs a bit of direction in one aspect of her life. The sessions are expensive, as well, so I’m glad he isn’t wasting our time.

There are some things he’s told me to do that are easy (marijuana for anxiety and libido was one…which I am experimenting with to some small success). Some are a bit tougher, simply because of my lack of personal motivation: work out, stop drinking. He also asked us to order a subscription fantasy box (which should prove entertaining, at least…I’ll let you know how that goes when it comes).

Since we’ve been seeing him, I’ve upped my game in several ways. I immediately signed up to receive The Submissive Advent Calendar, which I’ve been working through and writing about here over the past couple of weeks. It reminded me how much I want and need that in my life, and so I have been more cognizant of my actions and have been actively, if slowly, reviving it in myself and coaxing it from Him.

He asked me early in our therapy if I’d ever be able to go back to swinging, and if so, what might make that work for me. Since then, we’ve discussed bringing that element slowly and occasionally back into our lives, as well, and have made our first date (for after restrictions are lifted) with a couple we already know and with whom we are comfortable.

Romance and privacy are also elements that have fallen by the wayside a bit during the pandemic, so we are working on more creative ways to “date” and fulfill each other’s love language needs (which we have both determined have changed a bit over time).

I’m definitely more about physical touch (maybe not always the sexual kind), and he is definitely more into acts of service. Of course we all need tokens of gratitude, words of affirmation, and quality time with our loved one, but there is always one love language that seems to rise to the top, and it can change with the seasons and the current state of life.

I’ve also asked Him to go back to reading my blog, as I think it is a good way for Him to get inside my head. I’m not terribly wonderful at verbalizing things, but I’m not too shabby when it comes to writing out my personal reflections. I have an easier time writing that talking, so it makes sense that He should be reading what I write. For awhile, He was giving me this space to just be, but honestly, there’s not a thing I feel I need to keep from Him. Besides, it seems weird to have a bunch of strangers reading my deepest, most vulnerable thoughts, when my own Husband is not.

Protocol, Precepts, Rules, and Rituals

I went back and reviewed our protocol (the official procedure or system of rules) for our D/s relationship, too, thinking that (before I did it) maybe too much had changed for us to just slip back in to our old groove. But, as I reviewed our precepts (general rules intended to regulate behavior or thought), I was happy to see that really nothing has changed.

I will obey His commands to the best of my ability.

I will strive to overcome feelings of guilt or shame and all inhibitions that interfere with my capability to serve Him and limit my growth as His submissive.

I will strive to maintain honest and open communication.

I will reveal my thoughts, feelings, and desires without hesitation or embarrassment.

I will inform Him of wants and perceived needs, recognizing that He is the sole judge of whether or how these shall be satisfied.

I will strive toward maintenance of a positive self-image and development of realistic expectations and goals.

I will work with Him to become a happier and more self-fulfilled individual.

I will trust Him to determine proper rewards and consequences.

I will work against negative aspects of my ego and my insecurities that would interfere with advancement of these aims.

I wouldn’t change any of these, actually. But we have had quite a few discussions over the years, and there have been several revisions to the actual rules.

click here to see the full list of rules with all the revisions and current focus

The place where I am putting more energy right now is establishing small rituals to transition my state of mind. Little things like wearing particular clothes, lighting a candle, having a particular drink, or reading or listening to something specific can transition my thinking from “out there” to “in here.” Removing His boots when He comes home, getting Him a drink, asking Him about His day, serving Him first at the dinner table, those things make me feel my place more fully.

I’ve never been terribly great at active submission. I’ve always been more passive…tell me what to do and I’ll do it, but if I have to get creative and do something before I’m asked…we’ll I’m not so good at that. This is why active submission is going to be one of my main focuses this coming year.

A lot of what we are doing right now is simply recommitting to things we’ve left by the wayside. None of this is new for us, but true and lasting success would be. So that’s the goal, I guess. Right? Putting in the work to keep it working…forever.

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